2017-06-20 13:50:29  + video 

Cattle, produce, and people — for 18 years, everything that needed to cross a canyon between southwestern China’s Yunnan and Sichuan provinces did so in a single cable car. But with construction of a new bridge across the Jinsha River, the 270-meter-high ropeway will soon be rendered obsolete.

The cable car has become a fixture in locals’ lives since it opened on Oct. 11, 1999 — an auspicious date on the lunar calendar. According to longtime cable car operator Jiang Shixue, before the ropeway opened, villagers wanting to cross the river had to travel three hours on foot over rocky terrain to reach the boat that would take them to the opposite bank. The 470-meter ropeway shortened the journey between Yunnan’s Yingge Village and Sichuan’s Fengjiaping Village to mere minutes.

Villagers use ‘Asia’s Highest’ in their daily lives to move between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. By Xu Hui/Sixth Tone

“This has become part of our lives,” Jiang said. “Salt, pepper, vegetables, potatoes, corn, rice, it all comes through here.” The cable car even featured prominently in the marriage procedures of couples from villages on either side.

After the bridge opens in August 2018, local officials have promised to repair any damage to the cable car rope and turn it into a tourist attraction.

Editor: Jessica Levine.

(Header image: Villagers take the cable car across the canyon separating Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, June 10, 2017. Xu Hui/Sixth Tone)